As I was talking with my friend about the flurry of our season, she mentioned the word “stress” several times. It seems so out of place to be living a harried life and associating that pressure with the celebration of Jesus and His gift of love to us. I wonder about what we have done to this holy season. We have drifted into a place where we drive ourselves busy and we fill ourselves so full that we can’t sit still and just be. Nothing in His Word calls us to this kind of living, and yet, collectively we take a deep breath after Thanksgiving, shut our eyes and plow forward through December allowing much of what is essential blur by us.
It is a season, the season of Advent, which is the season of awaiting a coming. We remember His first coming. We long for His second coming. Personally I often remember His intimate coming — into my heart and life. And yet, in this season of longing and seeking His coming, we are so prone to rush about. We even go overboard for meaningful things.
I found myself in a craft store today. I am not a big shopper and I prefer to get in and get out most of the time. I was staring at various fake sprays of holly, berries and evergreen deciding which would be best to wrap around the cake stand I was converting into an advent wreath. Around me were others gathering their various “Christmas” decorations and craft supplies. I stood there thinking, “Where are You, Jesus?” and “What have we done to this sacred season?” Beneath all the hub-bub we are missing the mark.
One of my sons has a birthday in early December, so we are simultaneously going through many various Advent rituals and planning a Pirate-themed birthday party. I know. It’s a bit incongruous. And then, to top it off, we have a family trip planned right smack-dab in the middle of December. I hear the faint call to slow, to savor, to find rest and go deep. I feel the pressure to prepare and pack and participate. It is into this — this whirlwind, this dichotomous pull, this earthbound life — that God still enters. He comes even here.
I was reminded by a friend today that perhaps the most “Christmasy” thing of all is that we are in imperfect, broken lives filled with much that we would shed if we could, and He enters in to that chaos. He entered into darkness and hopelessness then, in a filthy manger — a feeding trough for animals. He entered into lives filthy from adultery, drunkenness and thievery. He came even there. He came to men possessed by demons, rejected to living lives as beggars, and to women forced to live a life of prostitution. He came even there.
And now, in our lives, He comes. He comes to the places of darkness, to the sensations of hopelessness and to our frenzied and failed attempts to make something magnificent of this season by decking the halls and filling our calendars. He comes into imperfection and He is willing to bend to meet us right where we are. It was His mission to seek and save the lost and for that He left everything and came. It remains His mission to save us from ourselves and from the sin-stained remnants of our life. He comes even here, even now, to meet us in our brokenness and to bless it with His love.
I want to spend this Advent longing. I want to celebrate His humble coming. I want to anticipate His second coming. I want to move away from what hinders me from worshipful abiding and hold fast to Him. Much of this is not so much the “what” as it is the “how.” I can move through this season with purpose and focus and though I will still have to shop and sit in traffic jams and face disgruntled people, I can cultivate a heart of devotion in the midst of all of that. He is not far away, He is near. We can pause and connect to Him everywhere and anywhere. He came then and He comes now.
Enter in, Lord Jesus, and sanctify our Advent so that all we see is You and all we do is for You. Purge us of what hinders our worship and move us to remembering and longing. Thank you that you do come into filth and brokenness and you bring light and love to those places. Thank you that you come even here.